"MY LORD, MY TRUTH, MY WAY"
"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…" (Jn. 14.6)
INTRO.: A hymn which presents Jesus as the truth and the way is "My Lord, My Truth, My Way" (#207 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text is usually attributed to Charles Wesley (1707-1778). Actually, it first appeared, perhaps as early as 1737, anonymously in A Collection of Hymns, for the Use of the People Called Methodists, edited by his brother John Wesley (1703-1791). However, it was also found in Charles’s own Hymns and Sacred Poems of 1749 and so is generally considered to have been produced by him. Originally entitled "For Believers" with seven eight-line stanzas, it began "Jesus, My Truth, My Way." Most of our books have used an altered version with four-line stanzas which contains Wesley’s stanza one as stanzas one and two and the first half of Wesley’s stanza five as stanza three.
The tune (Ferguson or Kingsley) was composed by George Kingsley, who was born at Northampton, MA, in 1811, and became a self taught musician. Serving as music director first for the Old South Church in Boston, MA, and then for the Hollis St. Church, also in Boston, he later taught music at Girard College in Philadelphia, PA, and was supervisor of music for the Philadelphia public schools. This melody is usually dated 1843 and was probably first published in Ferguson’s The Harp of David of 1844. It originally seems to have been joined with Samuel Francis Smith’s 1832 baptismal song, "Down to the Sacred Wave." It has also been used for an 1863 hymn, "Dear Lord and Master Mine," by Thomas H. Gill (1819-1906).
Kingsley also arranged as a hymn tune a melody (Messiah) by French opera composer Louis Joseph Ferdinand Herold (1791-1833). He published it in The Sacred Choir of 1839 with the well-known hymn "Rock of Ages" by Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1788). It is sometimes used now with the hymn "Take My Life and Let It Be" by Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879). Many of Kingsley’s hymn tunes were published in Charles Everest’s 1873 Sabbath. Kingsley died in Northampton on Mar. 13, 1884. His music was first joined with Wesley’s words in the Methodist Hymnal of 1927. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "My Lord, My Truth, My Way" appeared in the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. Today it is found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; in addition to Hymns for Worship.
The song contains both praise to Christ as our Lord and a request for His help in life.
I. Stanza 1 praises Christ as our sure, unerring Light
"My Lord, my Truth, my Way, My sure, unerring Light,
On Thee my feeble steps I stay, Which Thou wilt guide aright."
A. Jesus is the truth which makes us free: Jn. 8.32
B. He is the narrow way that leads to everlasting life: Matt. 7.13-14
C. And He is the light which will guide us from earth to heaven: Jn. 8.12
II. Stanza 2 praises Christ as our wisdom and asks that He direct our paths
"My Wisdom and my Guide, My Counsellor Thou art;
O never let me leave Thy side, Or from Thy paths depart."
A. Jesus is the wisdom that comes to us from God: 1 Cor. 1.30
B. Thus, we can look to Him as our counsellor: Isa. 9.6-7
C. As we follow His counsel, He will help us never leave His side nor depart from His paths: Prov. 5.7
III. Stanza 3 praises Christ as the Lamb who bled for us
"I lift my eyes to Thee, Thou gracious, bleeding Lamb,
That I may now enlightened be, And never put to shame."
A. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world: Jn. 1.29
B. It is only through Him that the eyes of our understanding can be enlightened: Eph. 1.18
C. And when we lift our eyes to Him, we shall never be put to shame: Ps. 119.31
IV. Stanza 4 praises Christ for His redeeming love
"Never will I remove Out of Thy hands my cause;
But rest in Thy redeeming love, And hang upon Thy cross."
A. We can always look to Christ to maintain our cause: Ps. 9.4
B. This is because of His redeeming love for us: Eph. 1.7
C. Thus, we hang upon His cross in the sense of clinging to what it stands for: 1 Cor. 1.18
V. Stanza 5 asks Christ to be our Teacher so that we might be happy here and have eternal life.
"Teach me the happy art In all things to depend
On Thee: O never, Lord, depart, But love me to the end!"
A. Only Jesus can teach us God’s will, so we need to look to Him and respect His teachings as from one who has authority: Matt. 7.28-29
B. One thing that He teaches us is to depend on Him in all things: Phil. 4.11-13
C. If we do this, He has promised that He will never depart and that nothing can separate us from His love to the end: Rom. 8.35-39
VI. Stanza 6 asks the Lord to help us live so that we can go home to God
"Let me Thy witness live, When sin is all destroyed;
And then my spotless soul receive, And take me home to God"
A. The idea of living God’s witness is that we prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God when others see Christ in us: Rom. 12:1-2, Gal. 2:20
B. Because Jesus died to make forgiveness possible, we can be spotless at His return: 2 Pet. 3:14
C. As a result of this blessing, we can have the hope of going home to be with God in heaven: 1 Pet. 1:3-5
CONCL.: The omitted portions of Wesley’s hymn are as follows:
"Still stir me up to strive With Thee in strength divine;
And every moment, Lord, revive This faiting soul of mine."
"Persist to save my soul Throughout the fiery hour,
Till I am every whit made whole, And show forth all Thy power."
"Through fire and water bring Into the wealthy place;
And teach me the new song to sing, When perfected in grace."
"O make me all like thee, Before I hence remove!
Settle, confirm, and stablish me, And build me up in love."
One of the stanzas by Thomas H. Gill might also serve as a fitting conclusion to this hymn:
"Dear Lord and Master mine, Thy happy servant see;
My Conqueror, with what joy divine, Thy captive clings to Thee."
As I journey through this life toward heaven, I must always look for guidance to Jesus as "My Lord, My Truth, My Way."